Although Montana ends up being your typical red state during a presidential election year, incumbent Governor Steve Bullock has seen good approval ratings leading into his re-election campaign and his party has experienced success in recent statewide elections. According to a November 2015 MorningSide.com article, Bullock’s approval rating was 61 percent, while 24 percent disapproved. That was out of 431 Montanans polled with a margin of error of plus-or-minus 4.7 percent.
But Bullock has now seen his second lieutenant governor of his first term resign, this time after in-fighting took place between her and other members of Bullock’s administration. Some GOP strategists believe that this recent departure coupled with John Walsh’s downfall due to a plagiarism scandal that arose, will make the Governor more vulnerable in his re-election bid. John Walsh was Bullock’s original running mate in his campaign for his first-term as Governor.
The GOP is confident tech billionaire Greg Gianforte can break free the Democratic Governor’s stronghold on Helena. Meanwhile, Democrats believe Gianforte’s hardcore social-conservative views are out of touch with voters, even in a long time red state like Montana.
Gianforte, a Bozeman businessman who has never held elective office, is the co-founder of RightNow Technologies, a software development firm that was sold to Oracle Corp. for $1.8 billion in 2012.
As of this report, Governor Steve Bullock raised about $220,000 in the last quarter of 2015, leaving a year-end balance of just over $911,000, after subtracting all expenditures. Meanwhile, Gianforte out-raised Bullock in the final quarter of 2015, bringing in approximately $315,000, but just pushing his year-end balance to slightly less than $333,000.
In the donor network graph below you can see both of the main candidates, incumbent Steve Bullock and Greg Gianforte. This network graph shows only the number of unique donors for the entirety of all fundraising periods to date. So if any donor, individual of PAC, made one donation in one reporting period and one in the next, the graph will display one node. The size of that node is determined by how much money was donated in total. As you can see, current Governor Steve Bullock has many more nodes because he has been fundraising since the beginning, while Gianforte has only been fundraising since August.
So far, this network graph has a total of 4,425 nodes, or unique donors, weighted by the amount the individual or political action committee donated to the candidate. If you want to see all the donors displayed in the graph, simply enter 4,425 in the box to the top left where it currently shows 142 out of the total 4,425 nodes are being displayed. But where it gets interesting is when you take the number of donors or nodes down to around 20. That is where you will see who donated the most to each candidate because the graph shows those who donated the most first, and then continues in descending order by donation amount. But then if you slowly increase the number of donors or nodes from 20 by clicking the up-arrow within the node box while keeping an eye in the middle of the graph, you will start to see nodes appear with lines leading to both candidates, indicating those donors gave donations to both candidates.